The Shanxi Department of Ecology and Environment announced on Aug 26 that in the 11 prefecture-level cities in North China's Shanxi province from Jan 1 to Aug 25, the average concentration of PM2.5 – airborne particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller that is harmful to people's health – reached 39 micrograms per cubic meter, a year-on-year decrease of 17 percent.

It's the first time that PM2.5 concentration have declined to the 30+ range since Shanxi fully implemented its PM2.5 monitoring in 2013, marking an historic breakthrough in its air quality.

Since the start of the year, Shanxi has paid close attention to seasonal pollution in summer and winter and focused on environmental improvement along high-speed railways and highways. 

It has carried out 10 tasks, including advanced treatment of industrial pollution, ozone emission reductions, clean transportation improvements and clean heating. 

In terms of its industrial restructuring, Shanxi has accelerated its elimination of coke ovens with 4.3-meter-high coking chambers and the province's 24 steel complexes in production have basically completed their ultra-low emissions transformation.

Meanwhile, the clean heating renovation of 917,400 households has been fully launched. By the end of October this year, Shanxi will have more than 6 million households with access to clean heating. 

In addition, the province has adjusted its transport system to reduce vehicle exhaust emissions and increase rail use. From January to June, the province's railway freight volume increased by 14.1 percent year-on-year and 141,000 diesel trucks at or below China III emission standards have been phased out.